In an unprecedented move for a second term president, the Bush administration today announced plans to knock down the left wing of the White House and build a new right wing.
The Ronald Reagan Wing, which will replace the White House's left wing, the FDR Wing, will be built next to the current right wing, the Herbert Hoover Wing. The Hoover Wing is situated at the far right end of the White House near the Barry Goldwater Memorial Fountain and the Calvin Coolidge Rotunda, both installed by President Bush in 2002.
Constructed by Jimmy Carter in the late '70s, the FDR Wing replaced the controversial Richard NIxon Wing that was secretly built by Gerald Ford in the back of the White House to store classified presidential intelligence files.
This latest construction frenzy by the White House does not come as a surprise to many. When Bush came to office in 2001, he knocked down the historic building's second left wing, the JFK Wing built by former President Clinton, hiring Halliburton to construct the Hoover Wing in its place.
However, some allies of the president are saying that such an outwordly partisan move coming in a mid-term election year might be detrimental to Republican re-election bids come November.
"This move could spell disaster for Republican candidates in November," said former Republican consultant Elsie Hoffenhacker. "It's quite a dangerous step because so many defeatist Democrats are still so jealous of Reagan's lasting legacy of single-handedly defeating the Soviet Union and single-handedly saving the American economy. I am confused why Bush and his people don't wait until some time in 2007 to make this important new addition to the White House."
Despite the misgivings, the White House remains steadfast in its determination to go ahead with the renovation on schedule and is refusing to discuss the issue with the media.
"Shove it, you annoying puss-face," said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a rare candid moment when a member of the White House Press Corps attempted to ask him about the Ronald Reagan Wing, which will reportedly house his new office.
There is widepread support for the new right wing - termed the "neo-right wing" by Washington insiders - among conservatives, while liberals are not thrilled at the idea.
"There really weren't too many worthy names left, obviously," said L. Donald Davis of the Libertarian think tank, Save America From America. "Who else were they going to name the new right wing after? That commie Eisenhower? Or Teddy Roosevelt, a second cousin of the worst socialist liberal commie of them all, FDR? I don't think so."
Throughout its long history, White House has never been without any wings on its left side. Architects say that structurally the added weight on the ride side of the building's ancient foundation may cause the White House to become so unstable that it may be in danger of collapsing.
Such a flaw would mean the White House would have to be condemmed, a situation that could bring the federal government to an almost complete halt for months.
"The additional leverage on the building's existing foundation, without a huge overhall, would in my opinion add so much stress that the White House would be in danger of collapsing in on itself," said Jennifer Holmstead, a professor of architecture at the University of Central Virginia. "Such an addition, without fortifying the left side of the White House, would just be a complete disaster."
Other experts say that such worries are nonsense and are quick to remind Americans that Theodore Roosevelt lived in an age where, after a fit of building by successive administrations, the White House had sixteen right wings and eight left wings.
"Roosevelt survived alright so I don't see what the big worry is," said Davis. "And even if the neysayers are right and the White House collapses, the country will still go on. The only thing government ever does is waste our money anyway."
Political strategists on Capital Hill today questioned the wisdom of an unpopular president knocking down a wing named after FDR - one of the most popular presidents ever - in order to replace it with a wing named after Ronald Reagon, a president whose legacy remains largely disputed by those on the right and left.
"I would have preferred that Bush replace the old wing with a wing named after a politician who is universaly respected by both Democrats and Republicans, someone like a Dwight Eisenhower or an Abraham Lincoln," said Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. "But, hey, it's his decision. If the president wants to play hardball then once we recapture both houses of Congress in November, we'll put forward legislation to rename the central hall of the Capital Building, "William Jefferson Clinton Hall". Let's see how the president likes that one."